Niall Byrne: Indie musicians are pointing way forward
Published 14/03/2014 | 14:30
Recently, two independent musicians, singer-songwriter Rob Pope and cellist Zoe Keating, shared the data they received from sales and streams of their music from various digital platforms and the figures made for an encouraging read.
Keating's earnings from recorded music accounts for 60-70%, but she still managed to make over $75,000 (€54,027) from digital sales and over $6,000 (€4,322) from digital streams, last year.
While Keating's revenue from streams (Spotify, Youtube and Pandora mainly) was relatively low, Pope's numbers pointed a way forward for artists who are sceptical about streaming services. Over three years on Spotify, Pope has earned $334,636 (€241,069) from 57 million plays of his back catalogue.
About $200,000 (€144,072) of that is from last year and Sweden accounts for one million plays which is important. As the home of Spotify, the service has more users in Sweden, so it indicates where the money could come from if Spotify hits everyday mainstream usage worldwide. Since posting her figures, it's been pointed out that Keating could make more money from monetising Youtube views which she currently isn't doing. Pope meanwhile, has seen his tour dates sell out in advance in Scandinavia in particular, meaning higher fees, more people hearing his music and more sustainability.
If you're a musician who ascribes to the idea that there's no hope for a sustainable career, Pope and Keating's figures show you there's more opportunity than ever to benefit from your art, it just takes hard work and acumen.
Gone are the days when any old eejit could live the rock'n'roll lifestyle of late nights, inebriated days and relying on someone else to manage your career. Music has grown up. And you should too.
These days you need to work hard. To push yourself creatively. To write songs that connect. To take advantage of the fact that there are no gatekeepers out there telling you no and use the tools to build your own future. Keating and Pope are using these services to sustain their careers today.
New Artist Of The Week: Sylvan Esso
Mountain Man are a young trio of Appalachian folk singers who released their debut album back in 2010. They last appeared as backing singers for Feist but things had gone quiet since.
One of the trio, Amelia Meath, stumbled into a new project after writing a song that didn't make it with her old band. So she approached producer and Megafaun bassist Nick Sanborn. The pairing proved to be a fruitful one and they ended up making a debut album.
Coffee is the first single from that self-titled LP, a bubbly twinkling beat pop song while Play It Right, that aforementioned song is pure happy weird-pop music.
The album's tracks falls between electro and pop with Meath's emotive bright melodies. The band are at SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, this week, aiming to drum up interest in the album, which will be released in May.
Tracks Of The Week: Lucius – Turn It Around
Brooklyn's Lucius sound like Tegan and Sara having really good craic, especially on their new single which features the strident vocal harmonies of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig and subtle references to '60s girl groups.
TALOS – TETHERED BONES
Young Wonder producer Ian Ring is at the production controls for this new project from Eoin French, singer with Cork band Hush War Cry. Tethered Bones, the first track from the pair, is beautifully-constructed yearning modern R&B with beeps and rising synthesisers.
WALLIS BIRD – HARDLY HARDLY
The Wexford singer is known as an acoustic pop singer-songwriter who is popular in mainland Europe. The lead track from her fourth album Architect, Hardly Hardly pushes things forward by essentially making a club track out of acoustic instruments. Rambunctious!
It's one of those weekends where you just have to accept the fact that there will be a lot of crying. Jubilant crying if we beat France tomorrow, desolate crying if we lose to France tomorrow – and, of course, general drunken crying about Ireland and how it's a great aul' country.
Here are ten tunes you're going to hear this weekend – along with the ramblings you're most likely to hear uttered alongside them.
1. THE POGUES FEAT. THE DUBLINERS – THE IRISH ROVER
"Lads, I know this is a bit corny ... but I'm going to stick on a few Irish tunes. Just for the craic, like – for the day that's in it. What will I start with? Oh. Of course. What else, sure."
2. PADDY REILLY – FIELDS OF ATHENRY
"I was in Gdansk, y'know. The night the Irish fans sang that after the Spain match. The stewards had to drag me and my mates out because we actually wouldn't stop singing. No, seriously."
3. U2 – ONE
"I'm not a fan of Bono or U2, but you have to admit, this is a fairly deadly tune. Most of their tunes are fairly deadly, actually. Still though. I'm not a fan."
4. THE DUBLINERS – MOLLY MALONE
"She was a WHAT? No she wasn't. Shut up. Was she really? I thought she just sold fish and stuff. No seriously, you're kidding ... aren't you?"
5. SINEAD O'CONNOR – NOTHING COMPARES 2 U
"Did you know she was really crying in that video? Probably because she knew Miley was going to be born soon, wha!"
6. ASH – BURN BABY BURN
"We're not going to talk about North and South. Not now. But this song totally qualifies for this list."
7. HORSLIPS – DEARG DOOM
"Here, can I ask you something? Do you ever watch the Ireland-Romania penalty shootout on YouTube and start to tear up a little bit at the end?"
8. DUBLIN WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR – IRELAND'S CALL
"Here, can I ask you something? Do you ever watch BOD's farewell at the Aviva on YouTube and start to tear up a little bit at the end?"
9. CHRISTY MOORE – RIDE ON
[Drunken singing along. No words uttered.]
10. BILL WHELAN – RIVERDANCE
"Right lads. Are we going to Coppers or what?"
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Irish audiences may be familiar with this Baltimore band. However, singer Samuel T. Herring's performance on David Letterman's show is one of the maddest, boldest and best you'll ever see.
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